Participatory Service and Transparency

In reading the course material for participatory service and transparency, I wish I had been recording my facial expressions. As I viewed a slide for Stephens’ lecture (Stephens, 2017) that read “We designed our libraries for people, not books,” I’m pretty sure my eyes widened, my eyebrows shot up, and I sat up straighter in my chair at Starbucks. What a wonderful idea to add to the discussion on participatory service, and transparency.

In the participatory service angle, the article that interested me the most was “Making Libraries Visible on the Web” (Fons, 2016). The author, Ted Fons, is a friend and former colleague, and all-around genuinely awesome person. He discusses in this article one of my favorite library subjects: linked data. As part of participatory service, he asks us to think of our metadata as it relates to findability and making this data attainable from sources other than our silo’d library catalogs. He emphasizes that, “Making libraries more visible on the web has two benefits: improving the service for the ones who are already committed to the library—they use search engines, too—and giving libraries the opportunity to reach those who never—or only sometimes—think about the library.” If you’re interested in learning more about linked data and the BibFrame project (and want to geek out like I do anytime someone mentions anything new about metadata), here’s a video that I found very useful when I was trying to learn more about this subject:

On the library transparency side, Kenney (2015) writes in “Lessons from Seattle’s Failed Bid to Rebrand its Public Library” about the corporate culture infiltrating a public library, and how the two are not quite a match made in heaven. Seattle Public Library (SPL) was set to spend around $2 million dollars on their rebranding effort, an effort that was roundly criticized. SPL surveyed their patrons, which is commendable, but the resounding answer from those constituents was that this rebranding effort was a waste of money. There is a dichotomy between the corporate, buzzword world that we are accustomed to and the public library. When I worked in a library software company, I very much felt that our mission was in line with libraries, and that helping people and the community was paramount. However, when the company was purchased by a private equity firm, I felt that the heavy corporate culture began to clash heavily with the library world and librarians in general. At one conference, the new CEO got up to speak and was introduced to the audience of librarians via flashing lights and rock music. I sat in the audience, mortified, unsure if this was an Apple iPhone launch or an introduction to some software updates for the library discovery layer. It was so clear that these two worlds were opposites. The library has its own culture that is unique, special, and powerful. A culture that puts patrons first. As Kenney (2015) writes, “whatever it is we are proposing, it has to be about creating a better library for the public.”

References

Billey, A. (2015, December 2). Essential BIBFRAME. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FJrs2Yrhqg8

Fons, T. (2016). Making libraries visible on the web. Library Journal. Retrieved from http://lj.libraryjournal.com/2016/08/lj-in-print/making-libraries-visible-on-the-web-the-digital-shift/#_

Kenney, B. (2015). Lessons from Seattle’s failed bid to rebrand its public library. Publishers Weekly. Retrieved from https://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/libraries/article/68666-brand-awareness-lessons-from-seattle-s-failed-bid-to-rebrand-its-public-library.html

Context Book Review – It’s Complicated

In It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens, Danah Boyd (2014) describes the increasing presence of social media in the every day lives of teenagers. Teens, Boyd claims, use social media to harness the full possibility of their social lives. Boyd has a sympathetic ear for teens and their need to connect with their peers in a social manner, using a term the author coined called “networked publics.” Boyd (2014) cautions adults and parents to beware of the news media frightening parents and educators into thinking every new social media application as being the new big and scary negative influence on teens. Instead, she asks that we resist being dismissive of the ways that teens use social media. She also offers us research that shows alternatives to the negativity expressed by researchers postulating social media as the harbinger of doom. Boyd (2014) instead asserts that, “Collaboratively, adults and youth can help create a networked world that we all want to live in.”

At the time this book was published, Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr were established social media sites, with SnapChat and Instagram gaining popularity. Boyd (2014) notes that as adults begin using new social media platforms, the social media application becomes less of a scary new threat, and is instead replaced by a another social media menace. The author emphasizes that the news media will always discover a new social media application that is supposedly the new peril to teens. In the book, Boyd (2014) notes:

Most myths are connected to real incidents or rooted in data that are blown out of proportion or are deliberately exaggerated to spark fear. Media culture exaggerates this dynamic, magnifying anxieties and reinforcing fears. For adults to hear the voices of youth, they must let go of their nostalgia and suspend their fears. This is not easy.

So what are teens sharing on social media? A 2013 Pew Research Center report (Madden et al.,  2013) gives us some interesting numbers. This table shown below displays the distinct differences between 2006 and 2012, with 91% of teens posting a selfie, and over half sharing their email address. These numbers show a continuous increase through the years.

Figure 1 teens and social media

Boyd’s sunny perspective on teens using their social media platforms to gain a modicum of control in their lives and to find creative ways of being social is a marked contrast from the recent articles that have invaded my social media world. The most notable of all the articles in recent months is one shared by many of my friends, with the provocative title of  “Have smartphones destroyed a generation?”(Twenge, 2017). Written three years after Boyd’s book, Twenge (2017) offers a searing critique of smartphones and their impact on the “iGen” generation, a generation born in the years between 1995 and 2012. Twenge (2017) argues that smartphones are leading to an increase in depression amongst this generation, and a decrease in dating and a desire to socialize in person. The effect of smartphones is seen in incremental ways, such as teenagers getting driver’s licenses at a later age, and a decrease in the number of teens being employed in part-time jobs. Some of these correlations are tied to a change in parenting styles and a shift in our culture, but Twenge (2017) makes an interesting argument in favor of limiting smartphones in the younger generation. As I think through these various viewpoints,  I can’t stress the irony of seeing this post on a social media app (Facebook), nor deny that I perhaps wouldn’t have been notified of this article had I not been on social media. I also realize that while I write about this book about teenagers and social media, my blog itself is a form of social media. The meta layers on this post are confounding!

What can we in the library world draw from Boyd’s (2017) research? I believe it’s helpful to engage with teenagers in a way that is accepting of and even celebrating their need for social media. In our course readings, Roush (2005) added that humans expect to be connected on a regular basis. He adds “We’re using this newly portable computing power to connect with others in ways no one predicted–and we won’t be easily parted from our new tools.” For a library to not advertise their services online or keep current with what new social media platforms teenagers are using would lead to a communication blind spot for a key demographic. An academic library wanting to showcase their newly renovated study rooms might find it useful to use SnapChat to market this service. A public library that is building their manga collection could use Instagram to showcase some titles. For libraries, social media is an absolutely essential part in staying connected with its patrons, many of whom might be teenagers.

This book assuages our fears about teens and their social media usage. However, while Boyd (2014) provides us with a refreshing point-of-view that is counter to current social media news, I find that sometimes her perspective was too one-sided. It’s hard to discount the argument made by Twenge (2017) when she posits, “Adolescence is a key time for developing social skills; as teens spend less time with their friends face-to-face, they have fewer opportunities to practice them.” I think the most difficult part is navigating the social media landscape and finding that right balance of keeping in touch and learning new things from your peers, while making sure to unplug from the smartphone when there are chances for one-on-one interactions.

https://flic.kr/p/Qxdy7K

 

References

Boyd, D. (2014). It’s complicated: The social lives of networked teens. Yale University Press.

Madden, M., Lenhart, A., Cortesi, S., Gasser, U., Duggan, M., Smith, A., & Beaton, M. (2013). Teens, social media, and privacy. Pew Research Center21, 2-86. Retrieved from http://www.pewinternet.org/2013/05/21/teens-social-media-and-privacy/

Roush, W. (2005). Social machines: Computing means connecting. MIT Technology Review 108(8), 44. Retrieved from https://www.technologyreview.com/s/404501/social-machines/

Twenge, J. (2017). Have smartphones ruined a generation? The Atlantic. Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2017/09/has-the-smartphone-destroyed-a-generation/534198/

Reflecting on the Hyperlinked Library – The Space Between Us

The readings for the the Hyperlinked Library seemed daunting to me, at first. I struggled with the possibilities of a hyperlinked library. I’m sometimes complimented for being practical and being a pragmatist (I make a great “get a grip” friend), but I think that side of my brain struggles with these concepts that seem abstract at first. I kept saying to myself as I was reading the materials, “how does a hyperlinked library actually work?”

It wasn’t until I read the chapter in the Cluetrain Manifesto (Levine, Locke, Searls & Weinberger, 2001) that things started to click into place. And by the time I got to the excellent video of the Library of the future in plain English, I was smiling at the many parallels  in the readings found in Module 3. Levine et al. (2001) opine that we live and work in “forts” where we are confined to the job that we are hired to do, and look upon the org chart of a company as a way to add hierarchies and create a divide in our communication. Booth, McDonald and Tiffen (2010) further this idea by mentioning the divide that is created by the library org chart. Why are they going on and on about org charts? Because structured org charts are the opposite of what a hyperlinked library represents. Stephens (2001) presents us with an alternative viewpoint from the silo’d organization. He elucidates that “Creating connections and community for library users is paramount in the Hyperlinked Library model” (2001). Levine et al. (2001) further this concept by postulating that “Org charts are written by the victors. But hyperlinks are created by people finding other people they trust, enjoy, and, yes, in some ways love.”

So, as a pragmatist, I wondered if I was seeing real-world examples of this type of library. I see it in my library, where I work in technical services, every day. If someone has an idea for the library, even if it’s the Dean of the library, we email each other, or mention it during a meeting to make sure we get input from each other. We include our colleagues, and the idea becomes better and better because we are transparent, cohesive, and believe in communication. The org charge dissolves when the librarian is also a reference librarian, instructional librarian, and a subject selector. In ways that I never stopped to consider, my library is unhindered by processes and silos and bureaucracy. Does this mean that we still aren’t beholden to the bureaucracy that exists in our larger world? No, but I think that once we’ve latched on to the hyperlinked model, these ideas become contagious. As Booth et al. (2010) mention in their video, trust has to be a factor in changing the library to fit this dynamic landscape. Once we’ve established trust with our patrons and library administrators, we will all be speaking the hyperlinked language.

References

 

Booth, M., McDonald, S., & Tiffen, B. (2010, February 7). Library of the future in plain English [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iLelhZHb3G8

Levine, R., Locke, C., Searls, D., & Weinberger, D. (2011). The cluetrain manifesto. Basic books.

Stephens, M. (2011). The hyperlinked library. Retrieved from http://mooc.hyperlib.sjsu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/StephensHyperlinkedLibrary2011.pdf

SJSU MLIS journey

My MLIS journey has been exciting, challenging and ultimately really rewarding. While I’m REALLY looking forward to graduating (it’s not happening for a while, says the part-time student), I’m already getting nostalgic for all the interesting conversations and scholarship that I’ve been lucky to witness and read during this journey.

In the midst of my MLIS journey, I’ve been loving my travels with my family. We went to Japan this summer (I should probably be taking summer courses, but summers off with the kids are the best!), and the experience of traveling with 8 family members really was life-changing. From the beautiful cultural heritage sites, to eating delicious food, to hearing my children learn the language, this trip really taught me that one way to understand your own culture is to visit another country and see the drastic differences and heart-warming similarities. Here are some pictures of the beautiful countryside, and my adventurous partners-in-travel.

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